London Grove board votes to delay repair to township bridge
● By Richard Gaw
The London Grove Board of Supervisors voted at their July 2 meeting to table any action on the reconstruction of the Woodview Road Bridge this year.
The vote comes on the heels of the board's May 1 meeting, when it was announced at the May 1 that Woodview Road would be closed between Gap-Newport Pike and Route 841, after a tree fell across a bridge on the road on March 31, causing excessive damage and exposing unforeseen corrosion.
At the board's request, McMahon Associates estimated that the cost of engineering for a new bridge would be $263,000.
Because the road is expected to remain closed for the next two to three years, and is currently on PennDOT's “To-Do” bridge repair plans, the board felt that if the township gave the green light to begin the engineering phase for what would become a new bridge, that it would be done too far in advance of the actual funding and subsequent reconstruction. The costs of the reconstruction may be as high as $1 million.
“The concern is that if we do the engineering too far in advance and things change, we've wasted our money,” board chairman Richard Scott-Harper said. “We do not have this budgeted in this year's budget, and that would be a tough hit for something so far out.”
The decision to delay any immediate action on Woodview Road Bridge led to a broad discussion by the board about how it will address the maintenance – and eventual replacement – of township bridges in the near future. Public Works Director Shane Kinsey told the board that there are more bridges in London Grove Township than any other municipality in Chester County, a cost that Scott-Harper said would be estimated at more than $6 million to fully replace bridges in the township.
“Yes, I think we need to start developing funding, and actually, [Township Manager] Ken Battin has suggested that in the next budget process that we should start doing that, but we’re talking about millions and millions of dollars we’re going to have to put away,” Scott-Harper said. “One of the comments I made in earlier meetings was that at some point, we will reallocate some of that money [from other township funds]. The time I think to do that is when you have no other alternative but to raise taxes, and that’s where you shift that money so that it goes to another fund.”
The board voted 3 to 1 to enter into a three-phase contract with Mark Johnson of MTJ Engineering to develop design concepts for the intersection of Route 841 and Route 41 in Chatham Village, at a cost of $34,000 for all three phases. The township has the option to opt out at the end of the first two phases.
The intersection is on PennDOT’s list of projects, and currently, two ideas being developed by PennDOT are on the board: a traditional cross intersection and a roundabout.
“[Johnson] is the renowned expert on the type of improvements that the state is considering doing at these intersections,” Scott-Harper said. “The state doesn’t care about our community and these improvements. [Johnson’s engineering concept] is our opportunity to convince the state [PennDOT] that if they’re going to do this, this is the best way for our community.
“The models that are up now are designed by state engineers to resolve the problem. What we want to do is have a voice for us who is knowledgeable to advise the state on whether that plan is acceptable or not.”
Scott-Harper announced that the township recently received a $9,218 grant from PECO, as part of PECO's Clean and Green initiative. The grant will be used to help the township pay for the maintenance of the trails in Goddard Park.
It was also announced that vacancies exist on the township's Inniscrone Golf Course Committee; its team of auditors; the Environmental Advisory Council; and the UCC Board of Appeals.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.